Research Technician Fellowship

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Are you a high school or undergraduate student interested in experiencing scientific research and tree science?

Are you excited to learn new skills while getting paid?

Are you worried about applying because you don’t have any experience?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, this introductory internship is for you! We welcome students with little or no experience to participate in ongoing research at The Morton Arboretum. Be mentored by one of our PhD-level scientists and see what it’s like to join a scientific lab. Spring and summer start dates and number of hours per week are flexible and can be discussed with your supervisor. Laboratory, computer, and outdoor field opportunities available, including virtual projects, and additional positions may become available later in the year. No cover letter or resume needed.

Applications are no longer being accepted for 2021 Research Technician Fellowships, but learn more about mentorship at the Arboretum or see open positions.

The Center for Tree Science’s Integrated Mentorship Program is committed to supporting students and professionals at every stage in their careers. As the Arboretum continues to grow a diverse and inclusive program, flexible work assignments and additional assistance may be available, and applicants from groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM programs are strongly encouraged to apply.

The Morton Arboretum is a champion of diversity, supporting a culture of inclusion that attracts, inspires, and engages people to achieve success. The Arboretum is committed to hire and develop employees based on job-related qualifications irrespective of race, religion, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, or veteran status. To increase diversity in professions related to the public garden realm, we encourage applications from underrepresented minorities, persons of all abilities, and veterans.

The Morton Arboretum is dedicated to complying with our obligations as an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer. All applicants are guaranteed equal consideration for employment. Please contact with questions.

Spring/Summer 2021 Projects

Project 1 (Soil Ecology): Examine the effects of different species of trees on soil insect communities—critical knowledge for predicting and understanding insect diversity worldwide. Insects account for more than half of the estimated 8.7 million species on earth; however, this huge pool of diversity is threatened by human activities. Soil insects are critical decomposers that convert nutrients in leaf litter into forms available to plants and other soil organisms.

This project involves both outdoor fieldwork at the Arboretum and sample processing in the Soil Ecology Lab. Gain skills in soil collection and surveying insect communities in the field, identifying soil invertebrates using a microscope, soil processing, and chemical analysis, contributing to team research goals, and science communication to peers and the public.

Project 2 (Tree Conservation Biology): There is only one cycad native to the US and the Conservation Biology Lab is working to understand how well this threatened plant from Florida is conserved in botanic gardens. Learn new skills in genetic lab techniques (DNA extraction, PCR, gels), lab notebook management and scientific documentation, time management, and discussion/problem solving with a team of scientists. Participate in lab meetings and project discussions, and also receive career advice from former and current lab members. No prior experience necessary, only a high interest in lab skills/genetics/conservation.

Project 3 (Tree Conservation Ecology): Work with the Arboretum’s Tree Conservation Ecologist analyzing camera trap data or learning how to make an International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List threat assessments for priority tree species globally. All work will be virtual in 2021.

Project 4 (Tree Root Biology): Join the Root Lab for fieldwork in the Arboretum’s forestry plots, focused on the collection of data on leaf growth, stem growth, and root growth. The candidate should be comfortable with outdoor fieldwork collecting samples and detailed data collection, as well as indoor lab work processing root and soil samples. Techniques to perform both field and lab work can be learned on the job but the candidate must be willing and excited to engage in new experiences and training.

Project 5 (Tree Observatory): The Tree Observatory team is looking for a student to help with a number of tasks.  Assist the drone pilot as they test out new sensors and sampling devices, learn to collect and analyze data from advanced automated sensors measuring tree health, and make general direct observations of tree behavior. This project allows a student to work at the intersection of fundamental tree biology, technology, and engineering.

Project 6 (Chicago Tree Health Monitoring): Trees are an important part of our communities, both in more rural areas and in our cities, and we need to better understand how tree maintenance and stewardship can keep trees healthy. Work in pairs on the west side of Chicago with support from Arboretum scientists and a graduate student from Duke University, learning to conduct field soil testing, measure local air temperature, and estimate tree stress with an app.

Please contact with questions.